Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s post-launch content has been slow, with only minor changes being made or added to the game since its November launch date. With the next big DLC not being expected for a few more weeks, fans have made do with smaller free updates in the meanwhile.
This month saw Valhalla’s second seasonal event – that being the Ostara Festival. Ostara is based around the celebration of spring and is scheduled to last from March 18th until April 8th, and is free for all who own the game regardless of platform.
Since this is a festival devoted to springtime, Ravensthorpe (the player settlement) has been decked out with appropriate decorations – rose garlands, fireflies and easter eggs abound.
Ostara sees the return of the activities we saw in Valhalla’s Yule time event – brawling, drinking contests and an archery competition etc. This is perhaps its largest weakness and part of why this event feels so tired.
The Yule Festival had many problems, with every activity having some bug attached to it. Thankfully, Ostara has not had nearly the same quantity of issues, but it is by no means perfect. I had only opened the game for five minutes before I crashed and experienced a bugged out drinking contest (the opponent did not appear on screen). However, whereas the Yule Festival had the advantage of being entirely new, Ostara does not get this advantage.
It leaves a sour taste in the mouth, especially as the Yule event saw such wide-ranging problems that Ubisoft extended the event as an apology. To see these problems repeated, not even a few months later, is frustrating.
The repeated events have seen no changes which leaves you to wonder if every seasonal event which follows will be this identical. The brawling matches play the same, with Eivor drinking mead after each round and becoming increasingly more intoxicated. It is not challenging (especially for those who are now likely at max level), but it would have been interesting for Eivor to instead alternate weapons after each round, instead of always using their fists.
As for the archery and drinking contests, they too have seen no change – except that the archery bug (of the targets you are supposed to hit being turned away from you) appears to be fixed.
Aside from the repeated activities, Ostara adds two new quests which take less than five minutes to complete. One has the player lighting fires to protect the settlement from evil spirits, and then fighting off phantoms. The other sees Eivor hunting down a great beast to make a crown for the May Queen back in the settlement.
These quests feel pretty bare bones and the conclusion to the beast quest in particular is insulting, as it re-uses a scene we saw back in Odyssey, where even then it felt ridiculous. Valhalla could have used this opportunity to teach the player about Viking festivals, as Ostara is actually the second of three spring festivals that take place on the Wheel of the Year.
What we get instead is a half-hearted event whose content is barely worth the player’s time.
Ubisoft also included an egg hunt, with the player running around the settlement trying to collect 15 eggs, using riddles to find each one. Realistically, you can instead simply run around using Odin’s sight (Valhalla’s eagle vision) to ping the eggs on your screen and complete the event this way. Since there is no timer or way to know whether you used the riddles or not, this will likely be the faster method for most players.
Like at Yule, Ostara makes Eivor win tokens by competing in the various activities, which can then be used to buy various things from Norvid, a settlement vendor. Decorations for Ravensthorpe, new hairstyles (alongside a beard change), tattoos and a new skin for Sýnin are up for grabs. These are all decent enough, but again, the content is so bland that it is hard to justify repeating events just to grind for tokens.
Overall, Ostara is another buggy, tired repeat of an event we saw not too long ago.
Some may call it unfair to critique these events, after all, they are free, and players can easily ignore them if they do not find them interesting. However, this ignores the fact that Valhalla was marketed with having a strong post-launch line up of content.
Before the game even launched, Ubisoft announced their roadmap of what players could expect after their initial purchase. For some players, they bought Valhalla explicitly because of how much support Ubisoft said they would give this game.
It also ignores season pass holders who have received nothing for their money. They got an armour set early on that has since been offered to all players through the daily Reda store and their unique quest has been offered to all players… for free.
This is to say nothing of the many additions to Ubisoft’s microtransaction store, which now houses the same number of purchasable armour sets as can be found in the base game. Ubisoft has reliably and consistently provides content that players can purchase but fails to provide the same polish to their free content.
Lazy game design is lazy game design, and since Valhalla’s initial post launch has been so lacklustre, it needed to end on a high note before we enter its first serious DLC, on April the 29th, with Wrath of the Druid. Ostara and the Yule festivals fail to meet this standard, and their content feels vapid in a game that is already overwhelming in the number of activities you will repeat over and over again. These festivals are the same event repackaged, with only their paint jobs being changed. Yule saw Ravensthorpe decked out in snow, whilst Ostara has flowers.
Wrath of the Druid has much to do to win back some of Valhalla’s audience who are already experiencing fatigue with this title.
All images taken by me on a base PS4